Bumblebee Gardening 101

Bumblebee crawling on a pink flower

What’s black and yellow and has a green thumb? 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying…

Bumblebee gardeners!? We know bees buzz around gardens, collecting pollen from flowers. But climate change is altering WHEN flowers bloom. Until the flowers show up, there’s no pollen for bees to eat. WHAT’s a hungry bee to do?

Consuelo De Moraes and team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich investigated.

The researchers gave bees access to plants that hadn’t yet flowered. First, within cages in a lab. Then, on rooftops where they were free to fly around. Strangely, in both cases, the bees NIBBLED on the leaves — but didn’t eat them. 

WHY? The bees bit the leaves juuuuust enough to stress the plant. This caused the plants to produce flowers faster. Some blooms appeared THIRTY days earlier than normal! When the plants started blooming, the bees stopped nibbling and went back to harvesting pollen. 

This nifty trick may help bees survive if future flower blooms are unpredictable. 

Guess I’ll leave my gardening gloves to the bees! Teeny, weeny gloves….